THCV vs. THC — Potency, Chemical Differences, Effects and Benefits

THCV vs thc

THCV vs. THC: What Are the Differences? 

Do you happen to suffer from cannabinoid overload? If so, we understand. There are so many beneficial cannabis compounds with frustratingly similar names and features that make you want to go back to simpler times. 

But THCV is worth your time and attention, we promise. 

Thanks to its remarkable properties, THCV is dubbed “diet weed.” Together with THC, it’s one of over 100 cannabinoid compounds that naturally occur in the hemp plant. This article gives you a better insight into this cannabis by showing how it’s different from traditional THC. 

What is THCV? 

Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is a minor cannabinoid found in low concentrations in regular cannabis strains. It’s more abundant in some central Asian strains and southern African strains, like Durban Poison (nearly 1%) and Doug’s Varin (around 6%). 

Although THCV is not common in hemp or marijuana, it’s still a naturally occurring cannabinoid. Its precursor is THCVA, which is a byproduct of CBGA or the mother of all cannabinoids.    

What is THC? 

Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary cannabinoid in cannabis and is responsible for its intoxicating effects. THC stimulates cells in the brain associated with memory, coordination, time perception, and of course, pleasure. 

This cannabinoid is present in nearly every cannabis strain, but there are some that contain little to no THC. A popular high-CBD strain with little THC is Charlotte’s Web. Also, the flower of the hemp plant contains less than 0.3% delta 9 THC.      

THCV vs. THC: Chemical Structure 

THCV is a homolog, or a special case of an analog, of THC. This means that these two cannabinoids are nearly chemically identical with one small difference — the THCV carbon chain (3-carbon) is a bit shorter than the THC (5-carbon) alkyl chain.

The length of the alkyl side chain matters because it directly correlates to the ability of the compound to bind with the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Research shows that synthetic analogs of delta-8 and delta-9 with an alkyl chain longer than five carbon atoms show cannabimimetic properties several times stronger than delta-9 THC [1]

THC vs. THCV: Potency 

One of the main differences between these two cannabinoids is their potency. 

The potency of a cannabinoid is correlated to the length of its alkyl side chain. Researchers have tested synthetic THC analogs and have registered a maximum activity when the substance has an eight-carbon side chain. As a compound with three carbons on its side chain, THCV is about 75% less potent than delta-9 THC, which has five carbons on its alkyl chain. 

Benefits of THCV 

THCV can activate the CB1 receptors but with less intensity than THC. There’s also evidence that low doses of this compound can act as CB1 receptor antagonist. This means that the cannabinoid has the ability to inhibit the action of CB1 receptors. Thanks to that, this cannabinoid may mitigate some of the effects and side effects of THC [2]. 

Early research shows the potential of THCV in several areas, including obesity, appetite, pain, and inflammation. 

Inflammation and Inflammatory Pain

This cannabinoid may act as a strong anti-inflammatory agent. An animal study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology (2010) tested the ability of this compound to activate the CB2 receptors. Researchers found that in mice, this cannabinoid activates the receptors and, as a result, decreases signs of inflammation and inflammatory pain [3].       

May Suppress Appetite 

While THC is an appetite stimulant and causes “the munchies,” THCV is the exact opposite. According to research performed on animals, low doses of THCV (5 to 7.5 mg) can reduce appetite. Thanks to its ability to inhibit the action of CB1 receptors, this compound may be involved in appetite regulation [4]. 

There are a few animal studies that back this theory, including a 2009 study that suggests that this compound may affect food intake and reduce weight gain [5]. But, current scientific evidence still doesn’t fully support the compound’s role as an appetite stimulant. 

May Help You Focus 

Anecdotal evidence shows that this cannabinoid can aid concentration, keep the user focused, and boost productivity. There’s a talk about THCV causing the “tunnel effect,” which may make the user feel hyper-focused on what they’re working on.  

Although we have much to learn and explore about this cannabinoid, it’s pretty safe to try it. One of the reasons for this recommendation is that most studies have shown that doses up to 10 mg a day have been well-tolerated by the tested individuals.  

THCV Side-Effects 

THCV is a pretty safe cannabinoid. 

With that said, we have a long way to go with new cannabinoids because in-depth human research is lacking. Human studies have shown that this cannabinoid doesn’t cause major side effects, even if used for a longer period of 13 weeks at a 10 mg dose.

A common side effect reported in studies was tiredness. This cannabinoid may interact with some drugs (like appetite-suppressing medication), so it’s important to consult your health provider before starting taking it.     

Does THCV Get You Intoxicated?

THCV can induce a psychotropic effect if consumed in relatively high quantities. 

The effects of THCV are different from the effects of THC because the former one causes more of a stimulating, clear-headed effect that makes the user focused and productive instead of foggy and lethargic. This cannabinoid has a higher boiling point than THC (220ºC versus 155ºC), so you’ll need to use a higher temperature to vaporize it. 

Benefits of THC 

THC has a similar chemical structure to an endocannabinoid that’s naturally produced by the body’s endocannabinoid system, anandamide. The similarity in structure “tricks” the body into recognizing a familiar chemical and allows for alteration of brain communication.

Delta-9 THC is potentially the most well-researched cannabinoid, so we know a bunch about it. This compound stimulates brain cells to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that allows the user to feel pleasure, motivation, and satisfaction. This cannabinoid may help with pain, nausea and vomiting in patients going through chemotherapy. It may also improve appetite and sleep.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of New Mexico showed that cannabis could improve symptoms of nausea just moments after consumption. It’s a known fact that cannabis causes “the munchies,” which manifest as extreme food cravings. This may result in a beneficial appetite spike in patients undergoing chemotherapy, thanks to THC’s ability to activate the CB1 receptor that can increase appetite. 

THC Side-Effects

Delta-9 THC causes more side effects than THCV because it’s more potent and psychotropic. Its side effects are not fatal, but they can be pretty severe if this compound is consumed in large doses. THC causes:

  • Dry mouth
  • Red eyes
  • Problems with coordination
  • Memory loss
  • Slow reaction
  • Tiredness
  • Confusion
  • Increased anxiety
  • Increased heart rate
  • Paranoia

The negative effects of THC can be mitigated by consuming this compound in low doses and combining it with CBD, which provides a balance. 

Does THC Get You Intoxicated? 

Yes, delta-9 THC is the main psychotropic compound in cannabis that gets you intoxicated. 

THC causes this stimulation by interacting with the CB1 receptor in the brain. This cannabinoid has a very high binding affinity for the CB1 receptor, which is responsible for changes in mood or consciousness. 

Are THC and THCV Legal? 

The legality of these two cannabinoids depends on where they are derived from. 

Possession and use of delta 9 THC are illegal at a federal level. This compound is a Schedule I drug under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act. 

However, there is one instance when delta 9 THC is not considered an illegal substance. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the hemp plant and all its cannabinoids and decriminalized delta-9 THC derived from hemp as long as it’s contained in a concentration of no more than 0.3%. 

Hemp-derived delta 9 THC, also known as legal THC, is not a controlled substance when derived from hemp with no more than 0.3% delta-9 THC by dry weight. 

Legal delta-9 THC products aren’t regulated the same way as adult-use cannabis, so you should double-check your sources. We provide a Certificate of Analysis with each product, including our delta-9 THC sleep gummies. Our sleep gummies are rich in melatonin, contain legal amounts of THC (10 mg), the terpene myrcene, and cannabinol, the sleep cannabinoid. As seen through reviews, they are highly effective and beneficial. 

THCV is largely unregulated in the United States. If the state where you live has proposed or passed THCV-specific laws, you should keep an eye on that. But, considering the current status of hemp-derived cannabinoids at the federal level, it’s likely legal. 

Final Thoughts 

Recent studies that explored the effects of THCV are more than promising. This cannabinoid is less potent than delta 9 THC and is more suitable for users who want to reap its benefits without fearing strong intoxication. 

Low doses of 5 mg to 10 mg of THCV are non-psychoactive but offer the full advantage of this cannabinoid. An interesting observation is that THCV may help block some of the adverse effects of THC, which makes this compound similar to CBD.   

FAQs on THCV vs. THC

Although chemically very similar, THC and THCV are two different compounds. They are both natural compounds, or cannabinoids, formed in the cannabis plant with different effects.

THC is more potent than THCV. Although very little has been done on THCV, the compound is considered around 25% as potent as delta-9 because it contains the minimum number of carbon atoms in the side chain.

The answer is yes, THCV can fail a drug test because it’s similar to THC, but it can also be mixed with other compounds that could trigger a positive result.

Yes, delta 8 THC is also stronger than THCV because this cannabinoid is considered the least potent tetrahydrocannabinol.

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